Applying The Expectancy Theory Of Motivation To FITNESS

Now you might think that the Expectancy Theory of Motivation by Victor H. Vroom only explains why employees behave the way they do in the workplace… *BUT* it also applies to other areas of your life like FITNESS.

So lets break down the expectancy theory of motivation with some fitness examples… (you can read the full article below or simply watch this video:)

First, here is the expectancy theory formula:

Motivational Force = Expectancy x Instrumentality x Valence

Motivational Force = The extent to which a person is likely to engage in a certain course of action.

Expectancy = The belief that an increase in effort will result in an increase in performance.

Instrumentality = The belief that increase performance will lead to certain outcomes.

Valence = The extent to which the outcome is desirable.

When deciding between behavioral options, people select the option with the greatest amount of motivational force.

And the intensity of that motivational force is sum or total of three variables that a person experiences when making a decision to do something… or not.

The first part of the formula is expectancy. And this is where you expect that if you try harder, you will be able to increase your performance. And that achieving certain standard in this second variable called instrumentality or performance, will get you to your goal.

An example of expectancy would be running to lose weight. Expectancy is your belief that if you try harder, you can run faster.

Expectancy can be influenced by your past experiences, self-confidence, and how hard you think the goal is to attain.

Expectancy alone does not motivate you. You also need to believe that an increase in performance will result in attainment of the goal.

Which brings us to the next variable called Instrumentality.

Instrumentality is the belief that you will receive a reward if the performance expectation is met. This reward may present itself in the form of a pay increase, promotion, recognition or like in our previous example, losing weight. Instrumentality is low when the reward is the same for all performances given. Meaning, if you don’t think running faster or longer will bring weight loss then you won’t try as hard to do either.

So at first with expectancy, it was that you expected you could run faster if you tried harder to run faster. Instrumentality is how much you believe that you’ll be thin once you are able to run 10km in 40 minutes. Being thin is the reward. Its the outcome tied to the performance.

But instrumentality really comes to the front when the reward is given to you by someone else.

For example, commissions. With commissions, performance is directly correlated with outcome (how much money is made). But someone has to give it to you. If performance is high and many goods are sold, the more money the person will make. Which was the goal

But your level of instrumentality also depends on how outside forces will affect your reward.

Trusting the people who will decide who gets what outcome, based on the performance,
Control of how the decision is made, of who gets what outcome, and
Policies understanding of the correlation between performance and outcomes.

For example – will weight watchers give me my plaque for losing weight if I meet the goal? Do I trust them to do that? Do I have any control over that decision or can I affect the policies if there is a conflict of interest?

Last in the equation we have Valence.

Valence is the value an individual places on the rewards of an outcome, which is based on their needs, goals, values and sources of motivation.

For example, valence would go up greatly if your weight loss was a life or death issue because of heart health. That, versus losing weight because you thought maybe you’d give it a shot because you think it’s time.

When you add up the levels of each of these three variables, you end up with the motivational force… or how likely you are to really try to reach the goal.

If you find this interesting, check out the video above which will lead you to more videos on this topic.

Raymond Burton


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